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Psych-Out/the Trip

Psych-Out/the Trip

2.0 1
Director: Richard Rush, Roger Corman

Cast: Peter Fonda, Susan Strasberg

This could be the biggest bargain in DVDs available as of 2003, and that would still be true if it were twice the price. The double-feature release of Psych-Out/The Trip is one of a handful of MGM "Midnite Movies" to appear with serious special features attached. Frankly, just getting them out in this format -- and in a low-priced edition -- is pretty


This could be the biggest bargain in DVDs available as of 2003, and that would still be true if it were twice the price. The double-feature release of Psych-Out/The Trip is one of a handful of MGM "Midnite Movies" to appear with serious special features attached. Frankly, just getting them out in this format -- and in a low-priced edition -- is pretty special. Psych-Out (1968), directed by Richard Rush, is the lesser-known of the two. Musically, however, it's pretty alluring, containing not only appearances by the Strawberry Alarm Clock (doing "Rainy Day Mushroom Pillow," "The World's on Fire," and "The Pretty Song From Psych-Out") and the Seeds (doing "Two Fingers Pointing on You"), but also one instrumental by Boenzee Cryque ("Ashbury Wednesday," a sideways re-write of "Purple Haze" co-written by a pre-Poco Rusty Young and George Grantham, among others), plus a song called "Beads of Innocence," co-written by music director Ronald Stein and his wife Harlene and sung by a group called the Storybook. Former Blues Project singer Tommy Flanders is also in the cast. Cinematically, the film has the virtue of having been photographed by Laszlo Kovacs, whose work has been stunningly preserved here. The whole movie was a production of Dick Clark, and it's surprisingly even-handed in its vision of '60s youth. It's the kind of film that opens with Jack Nicholson and Adam Roarke talking about dropping acid, but also shows the "straight" (i.e., over 30) world as pretty lousy, too. Garry Marshall turns up in a small role as a mean-tempered cop in a scene illustrating the latter, and, in many ways, the movie anticipates elements of Clark's 2002 hit series American Dreams. The movie plays a lot better than it did on television; it was out on tape in the 1980s from HBO Video, released on laserdisc very briefly around the end of the decade, and is now part of MGM/UA's ever-growing library. They've done right by the film -- and then some -- transferring it in a 1.85:1 non-anamorphic aspect ratio with the most vivid color seen in this film and the greatest detail since it originally opened in 1968. This edition not only looks sensational, but sounds good, too. The volume is set at a healthy level, is well detailed, and doesn't need a boost, though it does pump out nicely from speakers. It may be worth owning just for the sequences with Sky Saxon, the Seeds, and the Strawberry Alarm Clock, but there's a lot more than '60s musical ersatz to this movie: There are also surprisingly good performances all around, a script that's pretty complex, and stunning photography. Also included is a production documentary, "Love and Haight," which features contemporary interviews with Bruce Dern, Dick Clark, cinematographer Laszlo Kovacs, and director Richard Rush, who was responsible for pushing the production of the movie (originally called The Love Children) as a pre-condition for his doing another film, The Savage Seven. The documentary alone would be worth the price of the DVD, even if it didn't contain the film. Rush and Kovacs explain how (even within the limits of an AIP budget) they were able to make Psych-Out the first feature film to capture a realistic picture of what musical performances had become in 1967 and 1968 in terms of visuals and beat. They also get inside the practical and stylistic elements that help make the movie one of the most watchable of its genre. Rush is especially lavish in his praise of Kovacs' unique ability -- in that era with the equipment at hand -- to use a handheld camera in close-ups and fight scenes to give the movie an immediacy in terms of its relationship to the action. Producer/director Greg Carson is to be congratulated for the 18-minute short, which is exceptionally thorough, informative, and entertaining. The original trailer, looking decidedly less crisp than the movie, is also included. The Trip comes complete with a full-length audio commentary by producer/director Roger Corman, and that's just the start of what amounts to a semester-length course's worth of material about the movie, its production, and its genre. The director starts off by disowning the disclaimer that American International Pictures inserted into the opening of the movie. He walks us through the film in a fairly leisurely manner, discussing background details where they're relevant as well as various ironies. For example, Bruce Dern, playing the guide for the Peter Fonda character's LSD trip, was the only member of the cast who never went near drugs of any kind. Corman delves into technique in a useful and enlightening way, describing how a pair of 360-degree pans were worked cleverly into what is almost a hyper-realistic setting (most of the house used in the main body of the movie was the real thing, seen virtually as actually lived in, complete with all of the psychedelic accouterments). He also explains how he deliberately altered his cutting technique as the movie advanced, and lets us know that one key segment of the Fonda character's acid trip was shot at Big Sur because it was a beautiful place and where Corman himself had an acid trip while preparing to produce the movie. In addition, he goes out of his way to praise Nicholson's screenplay, explaining that, as instructed, Nicholson wrote a script beyond Corman's budget, but, as a result, it gave him more than what he needed to make the movie work. Another documentary, "Tune In, Trip Out" -- featuring Corman, Dern, and cinematographer Allen Daviau -- deals with the whole subject of creating a psychedelic ambience. Corman himself finds a connection between his Edgar Allan Poe adaptations, The Wild Angels, and The Trip. There is a further, separate, more tightly focused interview with Daviau; a segment on the use of the psychedelic light box; a reprint of an entire 1968 American Cinematographer article on the creation of psychedelic effects; and the original trailer. Anyone with an interest in drug-related (and drug-inspired) movies of the '60s will find most of what they'll ever need to know on this side of the disc. As to the movie itself, it isn't quite as well-preserved as Psych-Out, but it's been nicely transferred in a non-anamorphic 1.85:1 aspect ratio with color and detail that are surprisingly subdued, except when we're seeing actual psychedelic images and designs, which makes the film seem that much more seductively realistic. The sound is mastered at a decent level, though Psych-Out may be a little brighter at times. Both movies feature dual-layer menus that open automatically on start-up, and which are very easy to manipulate, as are the special features. Psych-Out is written about less often, so, as a result, may impress viewers more, while The Trip (which was enormously controversial in its own time) comes with enough bonus features to keep individual viewers or entire film-school classrooms busy (and having fun) for days. Each film has been given a generous selection of 16 chapters.

Product Details

Release Date:
Mgm (Video & Dvd)
Region Code:
[Wide Screen]
[Dolby Digital Mono]

Special Features

Closed Caption; Psych-Out:; "Love and Haight" featurette; Original theatrical trailer; English mono soundtrack; English, French, and Spanish subtitles; ; The Trip:; Audio commentary with director/producer Roger Corman; "Tune In, Trip Out" featurette; Psychedelic film effects; Psychedelic light box; "American Cinematographer" article; Original theatrical trailer; English and Spanish mono soundtracks; English, French, and Spanish subtitles

Cast & Crew

Scene Index

Side #1 -- Psych-Out
1. Main Title/Deaf Girl
2. Runaway
3. Mumblin' Jim
4. Becoming
5. Free Love
6. Freak-Out
7. Seeking the Seeker
8. Fighting for Peace
9. A Chance
10. Celebrate
11. Ain't a Home
12. The Seeker
13. Free Spirit
14. In the Flame
15. Bad Trip
16. Saved/End Credits
Side #2 -- The Trip
1. Main Title/LSD
2. Down the Hatch
3. New Vision
4. Sex & Love
5. On a Walk
6. Fear of Death
7. Guilty
8. Trapped
9. Escape
10. Intruder
11. Fluff & Fold
12. Far-Out Club
13. Afraid
14. "Let It Go"
15. Tomorrow
16. End Credits

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Psych-Out/the Trip 2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
These two films are both interesting cultural relics from the Flower power 1960's, starring a number of Acid headed pop icons such as Dennis Hopper, Jack Nicholson, Dean Stockwell, Robert Walker jr. and Peter Fonda, however they have both been shortened from their original releases. Unfortunately, they are the only currently available releases of these films from the Flower Power era.